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Councils using “legal loophole” to house families in B&B accommodation beyond legal limit: charity

Local authorities “are using a legal loophole” to house families in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer than the legal limit, a children’s legal rights charity has claimed.

Just for Kids Law said its Freedom of Information requests had shown in the last year that out of 1,641 families with children housed in council-owned B&Bs and hotel-style accommodation in 2017, there were 1,056 present for longer than the six weeks’ maximum.

Louise King, director of policy and campaigns, said: “This can put children at great risk as they are forced to live alongside adults with drug or alcohol problems and have no safe space to play or do homework.".

Just for Kids Law said at least 1,173 children were housed in independent accommodation for longer than six months in 2017, "often unsupervised and exposed to exploitation and abuse".

The charity meanwhile said in its annual State of Children’s Rights in England report that government action on children’s rights had been sidelined by the attention consumed by Brexit.

The UK signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 but Just for Kids Law argued that the government had made little progress on child homelessness, school exclusions and treatment of children by the police.

King said: “The wellbeing of the nation’s children should be one of the government’s top priorities, yet we have found clear evidence that children’s best interests are being overlooked and their rights violated because of a focus on Brexit and systematic failures to protect them.”

It said police use of force on children had increased, disproportionally affecting children from black and minority ethnic with 871 uses of tasers against children in 2017 and 839 in just the first nine months of 2018.

Black and minority ethnic children accounted for 51% of cases where tasers were used.

Mark Smulian